THE ENTREPRENEURIAL LEADER AS CHANGE AGENT: DEVELOPING INNOVATIVE CHURCHES
The purpose of this study was to evaluate and explore the leadership practices, qualities, and characteristics of entrepreneurial leaders in the business world to develop a potential profile for an entrepreneurial pastor. Church leaders can be more effective by learning from the business world, specifically, first-class business entrepreneurs.
Entrepreneurial leaders participated by evaluating and responding to the importance of seven characteristics and identified new factors important to an entrepreneurial leader profile.
The value of the stated purpose is to determine the characteristics of an entrepreneurial pastor. The research is based on a review of pertinent literature in the field of business, on nonprofit and church entrepreneurship, and on analysis of several models being developed by entrepreneurial pastors in innovative churches.
CHAPTER 1 UNDERSTANDING THE PROBLEM
A Beginning Scenario
Approximately twenty years ago, I finished high school with the desire to start a new business. I had taken every business class available and planned to get a college degree in business management and become an entrepreneur. My hometown of Wichita, Kansas, had several well-known entrepreneurs who started such ventures as Pizza Hut, Cessna, Rent-A-Center, and Koch Industries, which is the largest privately owned company in America. I finished my degree in business administration, but along the way, God redirected my path and called me to ministry. I still had a passion to become an entrepreneur. I simply put it in the back of my mind and began to prepare for ministry.
Over a decade ago, I was a seminary student with a call from God. The Lord took my entrepreneurial spirit and placed a dream in my heart to plant a new church. I wanted to make a difference in people’s lives. I had been in a church where the pastor and his wife took their life savings and started a new church that immediately began to prosper. People’s lives were being changed. Something resonated in me when I saw lives being changed, and I remember telling fellow students that I had a dream to start a great church. I was willing to do whatever God asked in order to see that dream fulfilled.
The seminary training I acquired did not prepare me for a church-planting venture. I was given tools in seminary to be a good pastor, preacher of the Bible, and shepherd of the people, but I was taught relatively nothing about being an effective leader.
For the first five years of ministry, I was an “intrepreneur” starting new ministries
within an existing church, yet the burning passion to start a completely new work from nothing was still a dream of mine that would not go away.
The event that challenged me to be an entrepreneurial catalyst came in October 2002. I attended the Leadership Summit, a conference held by Willowcreek Community Church. Bill Hybels, the senior pastor of the church, shared on his relationship with the business world and all he had learned from business leaders. He was mentored by the CEO of Motorola Corporation. Other business leaders helped strengthen his leadership abilities. Hybels began by challenging us to be agents of change:
If you change a church leader and give them a new confidence and a new fire, you can change a church. If you change a church, eventually you can change a community. If enough churches change enough communities, you can start to change an entire city. If you start changing enough cities, you can change counties, states, nations and yes, even the world. (“Sky- High Stakes”)
I accepted the challenge that day to be a change agent that would challenge leaders to grow in their abilities to lead change and innovation in the local church.
Warren G. Bennis, a leadership expert who has written twenty-seven books on the subject, says, “When are you going to do something that is innovative, daring, and make a difference in the world?” (“Leading in an Age”). The more I heard about risk-taking, strategic thinking, being a change agent, visionary leadership, and courage, the more I experienced a passion to be an entrepreneurial leader.
In church leadership, the role of an innovative pastor is essential. Pastors can learn a great deal by studying the leadership characteristics of those who start new businesses and by understanding the key elements necessary to succeed in the marketplace. Those same characteristics can then be adapted to apply to the leadership of an innovative church. Business entrepreneurs who start their own company from scratch
or transform a dying business into a thriving one have characteristics needed by pastors who are called to perform the same tasks in churches. Hybels shared about the leadership abilities of Jack Welch, former CEO of General Electric, saying that his autobiography was a textbook in leadership. Church leaders can learn a great deal from entrepreneurial businesses about leading churches. The Church lacks leadership in terms of innovation, change, creativity, vision, teams, management, new ideas, and the nature of organizational leadership. Hybels finished with a message of hope:
These are days where the church can gain new ground, launch new ministries, take risks, and serve the poor. The door is more open today in this generation than any other time in the last quarter century. We are being called to a higher level of leadership. (“Sky-High Stakes”)
I sensed myself being called to the next level as an entrepreneurial leader. I prayed for Acts 2:43 to happen again in this generation: “Everyone was filled with awe, and many wonders and miraculous signs were done by the apostles” (NIV). God called me to raise up a generation of entrepreneurial pastors, gifted leaders with creativity and innovation, leaders who could be change agents for the kingdom of God.
Unfortunately, the church in America has experienced sharp decline in the percentage of attendance in the last few decades. Dr. Robert Logan explains that during the last decade, American church membership has declined by 9.5 percent.
Approximately 195 million Americans are unchurched, making the United States the third largest mission field in the world.
In the midst of this dramatic decline, some congregations are taking a fresh approach. They seek to become more relevant to their communities, resulting in greater impact and, in some cases, phenomenal growth (Warren 15). Many churches are boldly stepping forward to build bridges to their communities through entrepreneurship.
My passion for the local church starts with a desire to see pastors who lead churches in the twenty-first century grow and develop into first class entrepreneurial leaders.
A new and growing phenomenon is reshaping the landscape of American religion, the emergence of the “entrepreneurial leader.” This phenomenon has emerged in response to an alarming decline in the perceived relevance of churches in American society. Many churches are losing their impact, in the midst of a changing society, as they have gradually drifted into the shadows of their communities. Cathy Lynn Grossman reports that 14 percent of Americans currently profess no religion, a 75 percent increase from 1990 (37).
The world is changing too quickly for the church to continue doing things as it has done them in the past. America is no longer a Christian nation. The ways that ministry has been done in the past no longer effectively speak to most people’s needs. According to a 2001 study by the American Religious Identification Survey, two of the fastest growing religions in America are Buddhism and Hinduism. From 1990 to 2000, the number of people who adhere to these religions grew by nearly 200 percent. The number of Americans who say they are Christians increased by a mere 5 percent during the same decade. At the same time, the number of Americans that no longer consider themselves to be religious in any form increased by 110 percent. Christian church attendance has remained about the same level for the last four decades. Approximately 42 percent of Americans attend a church at least a few times every year.
The Barna Research Group found that eight million people between the ages of
eighteen and twenty-nine have left the church in America and are no longer reading the Bible. The implications for the future of the church in America are frightening.
The role of the lead pastor in entrepreneurial churches is much different than the traditional role of a pastor. The problem in many churches is that the expectations for pastors are magnified while the level of expertise is limited. Dale Galloway says, “If I know exactly where a pastor spends their time, I can tell you how large the church they lead will become. When the pastor is the primary caregiver, the ministry of the church will always be limited” (“Becoming a Leader”). Churches that are at a plateau or declining are many times in that condition because the pastoral leader is the bottleneck of growth.
The typical pastor serving a church today is expected to fulfill at least three broad roles. Alan Nelson explains that the three basic expectations placed upon clergy are ministry, managing or administration, and leadership (32-41).
Pastors whose work focuses only on aspects of ministry typically lead churches of about one hundred people. Nelson claims, “[B]y far, theological education focuses on laying a foundation for the first category” (32). Clergy are paid to perform the ministry in most churches, and they spend the bulk of their time caring for the needs of their congregants. Each of the aspects of routine ministry provides pastors the opportunity to be in touch with the lives and needs of their people.
The second role is that of manager or administrator. Pastors are typically not trained for administration in seminary, yet when they begin serving a church, they are expected to help lead committees such as the Administrative Board, Trustees, Finance, and Staff Parish Relations. These are the committees that make the major management
decisions of the church, and pastors are expected to give some guidance in these areas. The pastor who functions in the area of managing and administrating can lead a larger church, about twice the size of that in the first category.
The third role is a leader. Pastors usually receive less training for this role than any other and, subsequently, feel the least equipped to carry out this vital area of ministry. Strategic planning, along with influencing the leaders of a church, can take up significant amounts of the pastor’s time and energy.
Table 1.1. Categories of Pastoral Activities
Ministry Managing or Administration Leadership
Sacraments Teaching Preaching Worship leading Counseling Prayer Evangelism Discipleship Hospital calls Pastoral care Weddings Funerals
Building Board meetings
Finances and budget Personnel
Programs organization Insurance
Daily administration Denominational responsibility
Vision casting Leadership development
Strategic planning and staffing Influencing the influencers Mentoring and team building Problem solving
Networking Training leaders to lead
Leading through modeling Delegating and empowering Change agent
Understand culture changes
CEO of congregation
Responsible for healthiness and effectiveness of church
Today, seminaries are adding faculty to teach courses and offer specialized degree programs specifically in the area of leadership. Successful mega-churches offer conferences on leadership and Christian leaders have written many books on the subject.
Teaching on equipping pastors for leadership has increased substantially. Clergy who desire to learn how to lead effectively have more resources than ever before yet, with all of the resources and training available, pastors are still rarely operating out of the third category. Pastoral leaders who choose to function out of this paradigm of ministry have great potential for growing and transforming their churches. George G. Hunter, III details nine great churches in America in which the pastors are great leaders and the churches are apostolic in their mission. These leaders are risk takers who received a vision from God and are leading change in their churches (Church for the Unchurched 13-16).
The amount of time a pastor spends in each of these three categories will determine how large the church can grow. Pastors who lead larger churches spend a great deal of their time in the third category.
Transitioning a church to a different model of ministry can be a very painful experience. The pastor must train qualified people to be responsible for doing the ministry while training others to manage the church. The pastoral leader is ultimately responsible for understanding how each area should function. Though a shift in emphasis for pastoral leaders occurs in this model, they still need to be involved in ministry.
Pastoral leaders share in the leadership of the church but never completely give it away.
Galloway believes that when the pastor is the primary or only caregiver, the ministry of the church will always be limited. Many pastors say, “My people do not want me to lead; they want me to minister.” This attitude is one of the reasons that churches do not grow, because one pastoral leader can minister only to a certain number of people.
Once the church reaches that size, some members will not feel they are receiving adequate care and will leave the church. According to Galloway, this model is outdated
and ineffective. The job of a true leader is to cast vision, help people see their potential, and accomplish the objectives before them (“Becoming a Leader”).
Larry Bossidy and Ram Charan declare that leaders get things done through systematic execution. An organization can execute only if the entrepreneurial leader’s heart and soul are immersed in the entity. Leading is more than big thinking and influencing people, although those are part of the job. The leader must be engaged deeply and personally in the organization. Execution requires a comprehensive understanding of the organization, its environment, and its people. The entrepreneurial leader must be in charge of making things happen and getting things done by leading three core processes: setting the strategic direction, picking other leaders, and conducting operations (24).
Entrepreneurs anticipate change and adapt to a new paradigm. The entrepreneur not only employs vision but also has the engineering skills for completing tasks. They employ a great combination of both vision and implementation, knowing how to engineer the vision they have for their business. Innovative entrepreneurs look for simple, focused solutions to real problems.
Hunter describes America as the largest mission field in the western hemisphere and third largest in the world, behind China and India. The average church size in America is ninety people, and churches are not experiencing conversion growth. Hunter lays out the frustrating facts and offers a clarion call to the church: Eight out of ten churches are stagnant or declining. The other 20 percent are growing, but 19 percent of the growth is by transfer of members. Only 1 percent of growth is by conversion. Many of those are only responding to seekers, not missionally affecting society. Most church leaders are in denial, or they minimize the extent of the mission all around them. The
Lord of the harvest is calling the Church to rediscover its main business. The Church is the only movement on earth that was created for nonmembers (“Reaching the Unchurched”).
While 80 percent of the churches in America are stagnant or declining, business entrepreneurships start every day. Not all of those businesses flourish, yet if a company had eight out of ten of its ventures in a state of plateau or decline, it would look seriously at the problem and seek radical solutions for fear of going out of business.
The church of the twenty-first century is in desperate need of innovative leaders.
The need has never been greater, and the stakes have never been higher. Warren G. Bennis and Burt Nanus believe that leaders in America have failed to instill trust, meaning, and vision in their followers. They have failed to empower persons. The key and pivotal element needed to shape human resources is leadership regardless of whether the organization is a small enterprise, government agency, or institution (8).
Hope still abounds for the future of the Church. If one were to fly above the American landscape, the impact of the entrepreneurial Church would be visually evident. Many of the leading social enterprises that dot this landscape—primary and secondary schools, colleges and universities, hospitals, nursing homes, and social service agencies—were launched either by a local church or a network of churches who responded to a social need (Gonzalez, Reformation 209). Many of these faith-based, non profit organizations have exemplified entrepreneurial leadership in developing social and educational endeavors (Dees, Emerson, and Economy 113). In keeping with this rich heritage, more American churches must now explore new horizons of entrepreneurship in order to turn the tide of religious decline and irrelevance.
This dissertation focused on the role and function of pastor as entrepreneurial leader. The objective was to explore the potential of the entrepreneurial phenomenon by comparing and contrasting the philosophy of entrepreneurship in the business sector with that of the mission-minded local church. Just as entrepreneurial business organizations have reshaped the way that business is being accomplished today, so their approaches can inform churches, leading to new innovations for mission in their communities.
Biblical and Theological Foundations
God brought everything into being, therefore, those created in God’s image and likeness have the potential to be creative as well. Involvement in the work of entrepreneurship is to be, in part, God-like (Barton 50-51).
Doctrine of Creation
All forms of creativity and life begin with God. Genesis 1 and 2 reveal that God is the creator of the earth and everything within it. One look at humanity and nature illustrates the diversity and variety of God’s creation. God is revealed in many ways through creation.
Genesis 1:26 proclaims that God created both male and female and they are made in the image and likeness of God. The act of creating is part of God’s handiwork. God is active in creation and has placed the desire to create in the heart of humanity. Millard J. Erickson believes that the human personality mirrors that of God:
The image is the powers of personality which make man, like God, a being capable of interacting with other persons, of thinking and reflecting, and of willing freely. They are (the powers of personality) those qualities of God which, reflected in man, make worship, personal interaction, and work possible. (513-14)
Humanity is formed in the image and likeness of the Creator; therefore, to work is an
aspect of being a human, particularly, to work with regard to creativity.
The literary style, content, and purpose of Genesis 1 and 2 sets this text as the creation account with the purpose being able to relate the origin of all things. The revelation of God is shown in the nature and purpose of the world and human beings.
The central motif of Genesis chapter 1 gives a comprehensive picture of God calling all things into being. The account of creation reflects the start of history (1:1). Walther Eichrodt argues the first word clearly depicts an absolute beginning (101). Isaiah 40:21 says, “Have you not known? Have you not heard? Has it not been told you from the beginning? Have you not understood from the foundations of the earth?” (NKJV).
God proclaims in Proverbs 8:23, “Ages ago I was set up, at the first, before the beginning of the earth” (NRSV). God called the universe into being through the spoken word.
Eichrodt states that the act of creation designates activity confined solely to the deity and without human analogy, which makes use of no material out of which the creation proceeds (111). Psalm 90:2 states that “before the mountains were brought forth, or ever you had formed the earth and the world, from everlasting to everlasting you are God.” “Long ago you laid the foundation of the earth, and the heavens are the work of your hands” (102:25). God is prior to the cosmos in time and power and all comes into being by the Creator’s word and wisdom.
The account gives no indication of anything existing from eternity with God. Genesis 1:1 refers to “the heavens and the earth” as a Hebrew phrase for the cosmos, describing a totality.
Since God is prior to everything, all things have come to be because of the purposes manifested in the spoken word. No other causative factor is involved in the
original motivation to create except God’s will informed by the Creator’s power and wisdom. Psalm 104:24 expresses, “O Lord, how manifold are your works! In wisdom you have made them all; the earth is full of your creatures.” No idea is found anywhere in Scripture that the Creator was under compulsion to create the cosmos or labored in the creative framework.
The concept of God’s faithfulness relates to this understanding. The notion of word and action in creation presented in Genesis 1 reflects that the divine will through God’s word causes the cosmos to become a reality. Reflection of God’s creative power is found in Psalm 33:6-9:
By the word of the Lord the heavens were made, and all their host by the breath of his mouth. He gathered the waters of the sea as in a bottle; he put the deeps in storehouses. Let all the earth fear the Lord; let all the inhabitants of the world stand in awe of him. For he spoke, and it came to be; he commanded, and it stood firm.
God’s word is in accordance with God’s actions. The result is the creation of the world through the spoken word.
After Genesis 3, the later experiences of God, as well as being predicated on the very nature of God, are a result of the moral fabric of creation. God created humankind to adhere to the created order arising from the Creator’s own nature.
God’s supreme creation is people, who not only are the pinnacle of the created order but are absolutely unique in bearing the Creator’s image. The Creator’s origin is not explained; no beginning is recounted. Rather, the Creator’s word defines all. The Creator’s moral character, wisdom, and power are made manifest in the creation of a world that is good.
God creates through Christ (Col. 1:15-20; John 1:2; Heb. 1:2). The Father is the
author of creation, and the Son is the agent of creation. By linking the Son with the Father, creation has its foundation in the relationship between the Father and the Son. Genesis 1 must be read in light of John 1.
John Stott defines work as “the expenditure of energy (manual, mental or both) in the service of others, which brings fulfillment to the worker, benefit to the community and glory to God” (106). R. Paul Stevens refers to the beginning of Creation as God working—speaking, fashioning, crafting, sculpting, and designing. God makes light, space, matter, time, land, sea, and most striking of all, human beings (113).
The Old Testament uses metaphors to describe richly God as worker (Gen. 1-2; Job 10:3-12; Ps. 139:13-16): composer and performer (Deut. 31:19), tentmaker and camper (Job 9:8), garment maker and dresser (Job 29:14), shepherd (Ps. 23:1-4), architect/builder (Prov. 8:27-31), metalworker (Isa. 1:24-6), potter (Isa. 31:9), farmer (Hos. 10:11), and teacher (Matt. 7:28-9). These metaphors offer a multitude of meanings in the work of humankind and the work of God. They suggest that the work of humanity is a point of connection with God and, consequently, a source of spirituality and meaning.
The Bible also begins with the parallel vision of human beings created in the image of God and commissioned to “work the garden and take care of it” (Gen. 2:15). The Bible first describes work through a picture of Adam naming each of the animals. Human beings are called to care for the world in spectacular ways. Christ’s death has disarmed the powers of darkness and brought substantial healing, thereby making a way for creativity and work, however, even Christians struggle and experience difficulties with work until the end of this age (Stevens 114).
The work of a believer in Christ is to participate in the work of God: “The work
of God is this: to believe in the one he has sent” (John 6:29, NIV). In this way, followers of Christ are coworkers and fellow workers with God (Mark 16:20; 1 Cor. 3:9).
Stevens talks about the great themes in the Bible of God’s work. God the Creator begins by forming, fabricating, maintaining, and, finally, finishing the process of design. God the Savior performs redemptive work, as God mends, unites, and saves humanity. God the Lover of human souls brings health, dignity, and meaning by performing relational work. God the Leader brings humanity to consummation and develops community-building work. Every legitimate occupation embodies some dimension of God’s unique work: designing, making, organizing, beautifying, leading, and dignifying. Believers in Christ are drawn into God’s work (119).
The purpose of the study was to explore the leadership practices, qualities, and characteristics of entrepreneurial leaders in the business and church world in order to develop a potential profile for an entrepreneurial pastor. Church leaders can be more effective by learning from the business world, specifically, first-class business entrepreneurs.
Not everything done in secular business transfers to the church world. Businesses are usually in existence to make a profit. The practical business model is addressed in this study. The study also attempts to find the theological filters upon which to base this comparison by critically assessing what the business community is doing. The study sought to find what is transferable and what is not by using critical thinking.
The research identifies entrepreneurial characteristics of leadership in the business and church world and looks at how those can be used to help pastors develop effective
skills for leadership. The experiences of entrepreneurial leaders in the business and church world are examined in order to develop a potential profile for a pastoral entrepreneur. The value of the stated purpose was to develop effective models for church innovation along with the characteristics of an entrepreneurial pastor.
The research was based on a review of pertinent literature in the field of business and nonprofit and church entrepreneurship and on an analysis of several models being developed by entrepreneurial pastors in innovative churches.
In order to fulfill the purpose of this study, the following research questions were designed.
Research Question 1
What are the characteristics, traits, qualities, and practices that entrepreneurial leaders from the business and church world commonly hold?
Research Question 2
What biblical and theological principles are common among entrepreneurial church leaders?
Research Question 3
What principles are transferable from the business world to the church world?
Definition of Terms
An entrepreneur is anyone who sees an opportunity to start something new and envisions, launches, manages, implements, and assumes the risks of that new venture.
Entrepreneurial venture is a speculative business enterprise involving risk that achieves success by helping the organization’s overall mission and vision.
Entrepreneurial leadership is leading a group of people in an innovative fashion to take calculated risks for the purpose of furthering a compelling vision.
Transfer principles, for the purpose of this study, are the characteristics and traits of business entrepreneurial leadership that can be transported to the church world.
This was an exploratory study using semi-structured interviews to discover the experiences of entrepreneurial leaders in the business and church world in order to develop a profile for a pastoral entrepreneur. The research identified first-class business and church entrepreneurs and the leadership characteristics they employ. From the literature review, I developed criteria that identify entrepreneurs and then used these criteria when interviewing leaders.
The study began with an expert panel of entrepreneurial leaders from both the business and church world in order to develop a list of leaders to interview. The interviews were designed to learn the characteristics of an entrepreneurial leader, along with what entrepreneurial practices and values from the marketplace are transferable in the church and why they are adaptable.
The research method is composed of semi-structured interviews. The data and information for the study came from the interview process. The interviews were audio taped and transcribed in order to provide empirical data for analysis. Interviews were conducted over the telephone.
I conducted twenty intensive interviews with leaders and pastors who have demonstrated the characteristics of entrepreneurial leadership in their businesses and
churches. These leaders were chosen from a panel of experts after meeting prescribed criteria.
Four criteria were established in order to qualify for an interview:
1. They must be recognized as entrepreneurial leaders by their peers, followers, and others in their industry or ministry;
2. They must have at least three years of experience in an entrepreneurial venture;
3. They must have led a business or church that they either started, or revitalized, that required entrepreneurial leadership; and,
4. They must demonstrate a willingness to be open and honest with regard to their own characteristics of leadership.
The population consisted of twenty respondents including ten business entrepreneurs and ten entrepreneurial pastors. In order to overcome personal bias, the panel of experts chose the respondents. Each participant is known for his or her entrepreneurial skills in effectively starting or revitalizing business ventures and churches. These leaders were asked to respond honestly to learn the characteristics that they possessed to become successful leaders.
The primary variables for this study are entrepreneurial leadership and the transferability of entrepreneurial characteristics and traits from the business world to the church world. The variables include the ability to envision, launch and lead the risks of their entrepreneurial ventures. These are further addressed in Chapter 3. The other crucial variable of the study includes determining the attributes and characteristics that set these entrepreneurial leaders apart from others in their field.
Secondary variables include age, setting, gender, culture, spiritual giftedness, theological persuasion, size of the organization, and geographical location. A leader’s setting and culture may influence the ability to communicate change and cast vision.
Two different researcher-designed questionnaires were used in the study. The first included background information in order to provide insight into the history and background of each respondent. This background information revealed the entrepreneurial leadership experiences they had performed in the past. The second instrument consisted of a set of questions that each participant was asked in semi- structured interviews. The questions were not sent in advance to persons interviewed.
The data collection included the following steps: (1) identifying entrepreneurial leaders through a panel of experts; (2) seeking consent for a semi-structured interview through written contact; (3) mailing a background information survey and confirming the time and date of the telephone interviews; (4) calling to conduct the interviews and taping them for accuracy; (5) transcribing the taped interviews; (6) reflecting upon and analyzing the results of the data; (7) employing a research reflection team to read the responses and interpret them; and, (8) performing the ethnographic technique to identify the frequency of major themes and nuances from the data.
Delimitations and Generalizations
This study measured the characteristics of entrepreneurial leaders from both the marketplace as well as from ten churches of different denominations throughout the United States. The findings represent what entrepreneurial characteristics apply to the
secular business world as well as the church world. The study also addressed the biblical and theological principles common among entrepreneurial leaders.
One limitation of this study is that spiritual leadership in the church is different from leading a business venture. Profit and loss are not the bottom line for the local church. Not everything done in secular business transfers to the church world; therefore, some of the things that have worked for entrepreneurial leaders in the business world will not work for entrepreneurial pastors.
Though this study emerged out of my deep believe that the Church needs not only leadership in general but, specifically, entrepreneurial leadership, I believe the insights and principles gleaned from this analysis will have application in a large variety of leadership settings for years to come.
In Chapter 2, the current literature in this field is reviewed and examined. Chapter 3 provides a more detailed pattern of the design of the study. Chapter 4 supplies an analysis of the interview findings. Finally, Chapter 5 gives a summary of the major findings along with applications of the conclusions..